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Full text of "History And Human Relation"

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will be able no doubt to raise a debate even on this

At any rate it is possible even now to make certaki
cojnments on the part which historical reflection has
played in the development of the errors that have been
so tragic for the twentieth century. And in this con-
nection there is one law which makes itself apparent if
we examine the events of the last one hundred and fifty
years; and that is the paradox that a great deal of what
people regard as the teaching or the lessons of history
is really an argument in a circle. In reality the historian
is in the habit of inserting some of his present-day pre-
judices into his reconstructions of thejpast; or un-
consciously he sets out the whole issue in terms of some
contemporary experience—he has what we might call
the modern " set-up " in his mind. In this way English
writers once tended to see the ancient Greeks as modern
Whigs; the Germans would read something of modern
Prussia even into ancient Rome. Magna Carta would
be interpreted in the nineteenth century in the light of
modern English constitutional problems. Those who
dealt with the medieval Holy Roman Empire too often
envisaged it with the nineteenth-century conflict of
Austria and Prussia in their minds. Sometimes there
,has been a tendency to project the prejudices of the
present day into the structure of the past as it was
envisaged in long periods and in general terms—the
tendency for the British to say, when France was the
.enemy, that France had been the "eternal enemy of
mankind". In England the view once prevailed that
German history was particularly the history of freedom,